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Fonda-Fultonville to weigh cuts

December 11, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FONDA - The Fonda-Fultonville school board will decide whether to make more than $320,000 in cuts, including springs sports and closure of the pool.

The district's Mid-Year Budget Committee is presenting those suggestions, among others, to the school board.

The suggestions, while not unanimous among the committee members, include cutting spring sports at $60,000, closing the pool at $30,000, shifting retirees to a Medicare Advantage Plan at $150,000, refinancing the long-term debt at $30,000 and cutting transportation at $50,000.

Article Photos

Fonda-Fultonville Central School Interim Superintendent Patrick Michel speaks to members of the mid-year budget committee Monday night. The board proposed between $230,000 and $320,000 in cuts.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland

Some members protested the idea of cutting spring sports and were unsure about closing the pool. Commission member Bonnie Couture said she was firmly against cutting the spring sports program. She said due to the rural nature of the school and the absence of a local recreation center or a YMCA, athletics are crucial for school-age children.

"When the students are bused home past Glen, there's nothing," she said. "We could cut them, and then May, June, say 'We made it,' but at what cost?"

Staffing cuts were also a concern, with some afraid to close the pool for fear of losing a teaching assistant who works at the pool running swim classes.

High School Principal David Halloran reminded the board the district lost 25 percent of its staff in the past year, and said if keeping spring athletics results in cutting classroom teachers, athletics would have to be cut.

Even with all the above cuts made, the district would need to cut another $180,000 to meet its goal of $500,000.

Michel said the board also suggested "floating," which would involve using a $700,000 reserve to solve the cash-flow problem. However, Michel said this would be problematic because it would be like paying a bill with a credit card.

"You need to have money from another source to pay that bill the next time, and that money would need to come from cuts or higher taxes," Michel said.

High School secretary Robyn Rose said she would have a hard time voting for future budgets if they removed spring sports. She said her son should be able to play because the district offered fall and winter sports, and all athletic programs were included in the current budget approved by voters.

"If you were going to take away sports, it should have been done fairly," she said.

Jason Etherton, committee member, said it would be extremely difficult for boosters to raise money to keep spring sports.

"The booster club could try something, but I don't know if they could come up with $60,000," he said. "We really don't have that much time."

Rose said, "I don't want to see teacher layoffs. I don't want to see staff layoffs, but I have a senior who wants to play his last year of baseball, so I'm torn."



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